is the world’s largest secular, fraternal and charitable organisation. It
teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression
of allegorical two-part plays.
are you a secret society?
are not, but lodge meetings, like those of many other groups, are private and
open only to members. The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the
public. Meeting places are known and in many areas are used by the local
community for activities other than Freemasonry. Members are encouraged to speak
openly about Freemasonry.
are the secrets of Freemasonry?
secrets in Freemasonry are the traditional modes of recognition which are not
used indiscriminately, but solely as a test of membership, e.g. when visiting a
Lodge where you are not known.
happens at a lodge meeting?
meeting is in two parts. As in any association there is a certain amount of
administrative procedure – minutes of last meeting, proposing and balloting
for new members, discussing and voting on financial matters, election of
officers, news and correspondence. Then there are the ceremonies for admitting
new Masons and the annual installation of the Master and appointment of
officers. The three ceremonies for admitting a new Mason are in two parts - a
slight dramatic instruction in the principles and lessons taught in the Craft
followed by a lecture in which the candidate's various duties are spelled out.
ritual out of place in a modern society?
The ritual is a shared experience which binds the members together. Its use of
drama, allegory and symbolism impresses the principles and teachings more firmly
in the mind of each candidate than if they were simply passed on to him in
matter-of-fact modern language.
do grown men run around with their trousers rolled up?
is true that candidates have to roll up their trouser legs during the three
ceremonies when they are being admitted to membership. Taken out of context,
this can seem amusing, but like many other aspects of Freemasonry, it has a
do Freemasons take oaths?
members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in Lodge and in society.
Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of
proving that he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a lodge where he
is not known. Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each other or to
Freemasonry. Freemasons promise to support others
times of need, but only if that support does not conflict with their duties to
God, the law, their family or with their responsibilities as a Citizen.
do your ‘obligations’ contain hideous penalties?
no longer do. When Masonic ritual was developing in the late 1600s and 1700s it
was quite common for legal and civil oaths to include physical penalties and
Freemasonry simply followed the practice of the times. In Freemasonry, however,
the physical penalties were always symbolic and were never carried out. After
long discussion, they were removed from the promises in
expected to prefer fellow Masons at the expense of others in giving jobs,
promotions, contracts and the like?
not. That would be a misuse of membership and subject to Masonic discipline. On
his entry into Freemasonry each candidate states unequivocally that he expects
no material gain from his membership. At various stages during the three
ceremonies of his admission and when he is presented with a certificate from
Grand Lodge that the admission ceremonies have been completed, he is forcefully
reminded that attempts to gain preferment or material gain for himself or others
is a misuse of membership which will not be tolerated. The Book of
Constitutions, which every candidate receives, contains strict rules governing
abuse of membership which can result in penalties varying from temporary
suspension to expulsion.
it true that Freemasons only look after each other?
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities.
Since its inception, Freemasonry has provided support not only for widows and
orphans of Freemasons but also for many others within the community. Whilst some
Masonic charities cater specifically but not exclusively for Masons or their
dependents, others make significant grants to non- Masonic organisations. On a
local level, lodges give substantial support to local causes.
you a religion or a rival to religion?
not. Freemasonry requires a belief in God and its principles are common to many
of the world's great religions. Freemasonry does not try to replace religion or
substitute for it. Every candidate is exhorted to practise his religion and to
regard its holy book as the unerring standard of truth. Freemasonry does not
its members in what their religious beliefs should be, nor does it offer
sacraments. Freemasonry deals in relations between men; religion deals in a
man's relationship with his God.
do you call it the VSL and not the Bible?
the majority of Freemasons the Volume of the Sacred Law is the Bible. There are
many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the Bible is not
their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is
regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible will always be present in an
English lodge but as the organisation welcomes men of many different faiths, it
is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law
is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his
religion and to a Christian it will be the Bible.
do you call God the Great Architect?
embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians, Jews,
Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of descriptions such as the
Great Architect prevents disharmony. The Great Architect is not a specific
Masonic god or an attempt to combine all gods into one. Thus, men of differing
religions pray together without offence being given to any of them.
don’t some churches like Freemasonry?
are elements within certain churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and confuse
secular rituals with religious liturgy.
the Methodist Conference and the General Synod of the Anglican Church have
occasionally criticised Freemasonry, in both Churches there are many Masons and
indeed others who are
that the Churches should attack Freemasonry, an organisation which has always
encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
will Freemasonry not accept Roman Catholics
does. The prime qualification for admission into Freemasonry has always been a
belief in God. How that belief is expressed is entirely up to the individual.
Freemasonry just another political pressure group?
not. Whilst individual Freemasons will have their own views on politics and
as a body will never express a view on either. The discussion of politics at
Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.
there not Masonic Groups who are involved in politics?
are groups in other countries who call themselves Freemasons and who involve
themselves in political matters. They are not recognised or countenanced by the
United Grand Lodge of England and other regular Grand Lodges who follow the
basic principles of Freemasonry and ban the discussion of politics and religion
at their meetings.
Freemasonry an international Order?
in the sense that Freemasonry exists throughout the free world. Each Grand Lodge
is sovereign and independent, and whilst following the same basic principles,
may have differing ways of passing them on. There is no international governing
body for Freemasonry.
What is the
relationship between Freemasonry and groups like the Orange order, Odd Fellows
There are numerous fraternal orders and Friendly Societies whose rituals,
regalia and organisation are similar in some respects to Freemasonry's. They
have no formal or informal connections with Freemasonry.
don’t you have women members?
Freemasonry has been restricted to men. The early stonemasons were all male, and
when Freemasonry was organising, the position of women in society was different
from today. If women wish to join Freemasonry, there are separate Grand Lodges
restricted to women only.
do you wear regalia?
regalia is historical and symbolic and, like a uniform, serves to indicate to
members where they ranking the organisation.
and where did Freemasonry start?
It is not known, but it is well documented that the first recorded initiation in England was that of Sir Robert Moray (one of the outstanding Scots of the seventeenth century) on 20th May 1641. This took place in a Scottish Lodge just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne when the Scots Army was laying siege to Newcastle upon Tyne. A meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, St. Mary's Chapel took place and Sir Robert Moray was initiated. The earliest recorded making of a Freemason in an English Lodge is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646. Organised Freemasonry began with the founding of the Grand Lodge of England on 24 June 1717, the first Grand Lodge in the world.
Ireland followed in 1725 and Scotland in 1736. All the regular Grand Lodges in
the world trace themselves back to one or more of the Grand Lodges in the
are two main theories of origin. According to one, the operative stonemasons who
built the great cathedrals and castles had lodges in which they discussed trade
affairs. They had simple initiation ceremonies and, as there were no City and
Guilds certificates, dues cards or trade union membership cards, they adopted
secret signs and words to demonstrate that they were trained masons when they
moved from site to site. In the 1600s, these operative lodges began to accept
non-operatives as “gentlemen masons”. Gradually these non-operatives took
over the lodges and turned them from operative to ‘free and accepted’ or
‘speculative’ lodges. The other theory is that in the late 1500s and early
1600s, there was a group which was interested in the promotion of religious and
political tolerance in an age of great intolerance when differences of opinion
on matters of religion and politics were to lead to bloody civil war. In forming
Freemasonry, they were trying to make better men and build a better world. As
the means of teaching in those days was by allegory and symbolism, they took the
idea of building as the central allegory on which to form their system. The main
source of allegory was the Bible, the contents of which were known to everyone
even if they could not read, and the only building described in detail in the
Bible was King Solomon’s Temple, which became the basis of the ritual. The old
trade guilds provided them with their basis administration of a Master, Wardens,
Treasurer and Secretary, and the operative mason’s tools provided them with a
wealth of symbols with which to illustrate the moral teachings of Freemasonry.
many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
Freemasonry consists of the three 'Craft' degrees
Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason) completed by the Royal Arch degree
(Chapter). There are many other Masonic degrees and Orders which are called
'additional' because they add to the basis of the Craft and Royal Arch. They are
not basic to Freemasonry but add to it by further expounding and illustrating
the principles stated in the Craft and Royal Arch. Some of these additional
degrees are numerically superior to the third degree but this does not affect
the fact that they are additional to and not in anyway superior to or higher
than the Craft. The ranks that these additional degrees carry have no standing
with the Craft or Royal Arch.
much does it cost to be a Freemason?
varies from lodge to lodge but anyone wishing to join can find a lodge to suit
his pocket. On entry, there is an initiation fee and an apron to buy. A member
pays an annual subscription to his lodge which covers his membership and the
administrative cost of running the lodge. It is usual to have a meal after the
meeting; the cost of this can be included either in the annual subscription or
paid for at the time.
is entirely up to the individual member what he gives to Charity, but it should
always be without detriment to his other responsibilities. Similarly, he may
join as many lodges as his time and pocket can allow as long as it does not
adversely affect his family life and responsibilities.